The Cricket Shoe – From John Lobb, to Bucks, to Ovadia & Sons

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As a nice mid-week diversion, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to discover that the brothers Ovadia had updated their website to include their Spring 2013 offerings. The collection was enough to temporarily soothe the insatiable appetite of the menswear masses, expectedly full of unexpected gems across the board including this indigo seersucker suit, this hand-dyed oxford, and this vintage inspired combat jacket. Although, if you ask me, the real treasure of this latest collection from Ovadia & Sons lies in the shoe department, which is quickly becoming what I would deem to be the most exciting area of Ariel and Shimon’s portfolio.

When a shoe looks great that’s one thing, when it happens to coincide perfectly with your mental state, well that’s another story entirely. This winter has worn me down quite a bit, and quite frankly if I have to strap on boots one more time, I might just start tying plastic bags around my feet and calling it a day. So, I’ve spent a fair amount of time day-dreaming about the elusive “ideal summer shoe,” which if I’m being realistic, is right up there with an attractive girl that just loves how you spend all your time online blogging about menswear. It simply does not exist. Perfection might be unattainable, but that damn well doesn’t mean I’m not stubborn (read: sadistic) enough to try. With one option already on the table (a loafer that hopefully I’ll be able to tell you about in the upcoming weeks) a new contender emerged yesterday when I saw the cricket saddle lace-up from Ovadia & Sons.

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When I first got interested in menswear, I wore a pair of Bass bucks nearly everyday for a year. They were cheap, incredibly uncomfortable, and by the end stained with enough mystery splotches to make a chef’s apron blush. Nonetheless, I was proud of them, they were simple, paired well with everything, and made me think I was better dressed than my seventeen year old peers. Of course, we all have to keep up with the Joneses, even if the Joneses are just some guys on the internet, and so those bucks are now long retired, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for the medium brown suede lace-up. Which might explain why the cricket saddle shoe struck such a chord for me, with it’s closed laced front, leather sole, and red brick bottom, which brought me right back to ’09.

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To get the complete picture of the cricket shoe, we have to go back far further than the infantile red brick revival and my inclination towards snuff suede, for it was nearly a century and a half ago that John Lobb came up with the design. According to the brand it was in 1868 that Lobb designed the original spectator shoe as a model to be worn by England’s cricket players. Of course, spectator shoes as we know them today appear far different than the more understated cricket shoe from Ovadia & Sons, but based on pictures and caricatures from the period (note the photos above and below), it would seem that the shoe began as a simpler design, and overtime evolved into it’s more flashy contemporary state. All of the broguing and wingtiping that defines the spectator shoe today, and quite frankly makes it appear far too outdated is absent from the cricket shoe, but by maintaining all of the sectionalization of the shoe, and choosing to produce it in snuff suede, the Ovadia’s tastefully pay homage to Lobb’s original design. The saddling, and the angular toecap with the layers coming down the vamp, are a welcome edition to the basic buck design of which we are all familiar. And of course, if the snuff suede doesn’t do it for you, it seems that an all white model is on it’s way.

Stanhoe cricket team in the 1930s Loaned PS

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